But, who’s got YOUR back?
I spent a lot of the summer thinking about teamwork.
In another part of my life, aside from Rabble Up, I’m the Managing Director for a campaign called Make It Work, which I co-founded along with some very inspiring leaders who I am honored to be counted among. We focus on economic security for women, men, and families, including equal pay, paid sick days, minimum wage, paid family leave, and childcare. It’s been such a joyride since we launched in mid-June. And, teamwork has been a big theme on our minds since then. We have spent the last few months starting to build a small team of awesome staff. This means doing an assessment of what we need, where the gaps are, and seeking out the right leaders to fill those gaps. A functioning team is the foundation of being able to make change in the world over the long-haul.
Additionally, one of Make It Work’s main values is the importance of community in the juggle between work, family, and all of life’s responsibilities. Parents find more affordable daycare alternatives through babysitting co-ops and exchanges, people rally together in support of paid family leave when they have a new child or a loved one gets sick, and restaurant workers go on strike until paid sick days become a reality. Clearly, we are stronger together than we are alone.
So with those examples of teamwork on my mind, I now turn to the importance of “teamwork” in the pursuit of one’s own self-care.
Let me explain.
As just one person, it’s hard to get everything done, and still maintain some semblance of sanity and groundedness. At this point in my life and career, I’m very clear that I need a team of people to help me out. You can call it community, chosen family, anything you wish. I choose the word “team” because it implies that we all have our roles to play.
I’m very lucky to have quite a team. My partner, our dog, my mentor and coach, family, friends, health care professionals, alternative health professionals, and many others, all play a role in my being able to do my work in the world, grow, change, and love as a functioning human (even my favorite spin class teacher is a major part of my team!). I’m also honored to play my role on their teams, too. Just like a sports team, we are greater than the sum of our individual parts.
And, I’m sure we can all point to an example (or 5) where teamwork has collapsed doing social change work. I know a few of the organizations and coalitions I’ve been involved with have been shining examples of poor management and non-existent teamwork. What a bummer.
So, how do YOU build a functioning self-care team? Some thoughts below.
1) Figure out the gaps. As any strong leader knows, it’s ok not to be great at everything. Some people might be stunning social justice visionaries, amazing cooks, and just as fabulous at getting the bills paid on time, making sure the trash gets taken out, and following up on health insurance snafus. But for the rest of us, it’s important to admit when we need some help. If you imagine yourself as the CEO of your own life, what are the other job descriptions that need to be filled?
2) Communicate. Let the people on your team know how important they are to you. Some people might take for granted that being supportive is just a built-in part of being a good friend or significant other. While this may be true, we should acknowledge the exact role that is being played. For example, tell your best friend that you love how she keeps you in check, and why that role she plays is so essential. Or, thank your partner for making you breakfast in the morning and go the extra mile to articulate how this seemingly small gesture actually allows your whole day to function better. Good bosses share details to help their employees see their strengths and feel respected– it’s no different for your self-care teammates.
3) Be a team player. We get what we give, right? So make sure to return the favor, and figure out how to be the best team player to the members of your community. Are you great at making people laugh? Then be the jester for a colleague in need. Are you an expert organizer? Help out a friend whose closet has become a symbol of their own overwhelm. Playing these roles will also help you see the fullness of who you are, and just how much you have to contribute to the world. How beautiful is that.
Just remember, the most important person on your team…is you. Treat yourself the way you treat your closest loved ones– with kindness, gentleness, and deep understanding.
Cheers to that!